Get Lost in a Story readers. Today we have a special treat. A husband and wife team. Colleen Collins writes romance, mystery and nonfiction. Shaun Kaufman is kicking off his law practice http://www.shaunkaufmanlaw.com/ and he also writes nonfiction. If that’s not enough, they’re both practicing Colorado private investigators. So we’ve tapered our fun questions more for their lifestyle than for our typical fiction writers.
Please welcome Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman to Get Lost in a Story.
DONNELL: Put your heads together and tell us your favorite room(s) in your house?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: Our bedroom. It’s where Colleen writes, where Shaun watches football, where we often eat our meals in the evenings, and it’s the room closest to the kitchen. For Shaun, the living room couch has great significance because it’s where he spent hundreds of hours studying for two bar exams over the past few years.
DONNELL: Something personal goes missing -- which of you puts on the detective hat to find it?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: Colleen. She practices a visualization technique that goes like this… “When do you last recall holding or seeing that item? Okay, visualize the area, what you were wearing, what you were in the middle of doing…now, where did you take that item?” It’s cognitive-psychologist-detective approach.
DONNELL: Do you read reviews of your books?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: Yes. Enough to learn from feedback. Although it’s sometimes also important to follow-up on reviews to ensure they’re legit. We once discovered someone had posted several “anonymous” reviews (one on a major bookseller’s site as well as on several blogs), which weren’t reviews at all, but character attacks. We knew who it was (we are, after all, detectives), and we also knew it wasn’t worth our energy or time to confront him. Instead, we contacted the bookselling site (who removed the un-review) and the blog owners (who graciously removed the posts, if they hadn’t already – one even publicly chewed out the anonymous poster!).
Btw, we’ve had authors contact us requesting help to stop cyberstalkers – we refer those to a local PI we know who specializes in tracking cyberstalkers.
DONNELL: What’s the strangest case you’ve ever been asked to take or have taken?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: We once had a guy call, asking us to locate a vampire. The guy was dead serious (no pun intended) – said it was a person who really thought he was a vampire and was biting people’s necks. We declined the case. Another guy once asked us to “put some muscle” on a person who’d stolen a Ferrari. We told him we don’t do Tony Soprano cases. We once found a young man who’d fallen in with a cult…we discovered the cult, identified the cult leader’s real name & background, then over a year later Dr. Phil did a show on the same cult, claiming “his” PI just discovered the cult leader’s real identity. It was odd watching that show, realizing some of our best work was adapted for the Dr. Phil show.
DONNELL: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: You asked at a great time! We had a “Whole Foods” date this past weekend, so we have food in our fridge that we can’t even pronounce, cheeses whose fat content should make us ashamed, kosher yogurt with milk derived from cows treated humanely, and enough Diet Coke to stun a moose (not from Whole Foods). Oh, and homemade pickles from last summer.
DONNELL: How many “gumshoes” do you have in your closet? ;) (sorry interviewer couldn’t resist).
SHAUN & COLLEEN: We don’t. They’re under our bed.
DONNELL: What was your proudest moment as a private investigator?
COLLEEN: Finding an abducted 5-year-old girl within 12 hours of her being taken.
SHAUN: Doggedly pursuing neighborhood leads in a gang-stabbing case. Nobody wanted to come forward out of fear of gang retaliation, but I persuaded two people to finally meet me anonymously (they’d only give their first names) in a public park. Their statements helped release an innocent man from a 20-year prison sentence.
DONNELL: (How cool is that!) What do you do to unwind and relax?
SHAUN & COLLEEN:We walk and train the Rottweilers. We garden. We plan fantasy trips where we win a lot of money in Las Vegas. Writing together.
DONNELL: What would you say is the most fun? What presents the most conflict?
Most fun: Uncovering and learning about the other…we’ve been together 9 years, and we’re still learning how the other thinks!
Most conflict: Colleen’s a detailed person, Shaun’s a big-picture person. Enough said.
DONNELL: In a police investigation we hear that with every hour a person goes missing, the less likely police will find them alive. Do you investigate missing persons? And what was the longest time that person was listed missing?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: We never try to supplant law enforcement investigations. However, we are happy to step in when law enforcement has yet to act on (or declined to act on) a missing person complaint. (The reason law enforcement sometimes declines to act on missing person complaints is that they do not find foul play in the disappearance.)
The longest time a person was listed missing (who we found) was approximately 2 months.
DONNELL: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?
SHAUN & COLLEEN: Not for researching a book, but for a case. We discovered a woman was committing crimes as her “twin sister” – she’d fooled attorneys and law enforcement over a span of a few years. She was quite intelligent (had a doctorate) and had created some compelling documentation that indicated there was a twin sister. Before we took the case, nobody had taken the time to dig deeper into that documentation and her family history.
DONNELL: What do you think is the most misunderstood concept about private investigators?
COLLEEN: That PIs’ work is mostly about chasing cheaters.
SHAUN: That all PIs carry guns, drink on the job, and call women “dames.”
Fascinating, Colleen and Shaun, now it’s your turn to ask Readers a Question.
COLLEEN: Who’s your favorite fictional sleuth and why?
SHAUN: If you were going to be on “Dancing with the Stars,” who would you want from the professional dancers to be your partner and why?
DONNELL: There you have it, Readers. Shaun & Colleen will be doing a book give away.
SHAUN & COLLEEN: Yes, we’d like to give away two copies: one of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths and How Do Private Eyes Do That? Both are ebooks (for both Kindle and Nook), but you don’t need an e-reader device (there are free, downloadable apps so you can read the books on our PC, Mac, and other devices). Please leave your email address in your comments (winners will receive links to the books via email).
Colleen and Shaun, thank you.
Thank you, Donnell! Btw, we’re excited about your new book release The Past Came Hunting!
Thank you, my Denver buddies! I'm so glad you stopped by and granted us this interview, even though it was a bit out of the ordinary. It sure was fun and informative! ~ Donnell
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